Which Birth Control Pill Is Best For Me – Updated by Team June 21, 2022 Kristi C. Torres, Pharm.D. & Leslie Greenberg, MD
Since it was first legalized in the United States in the 1960s, the birth control pill has become one of the most popular forms of female contraception. Sixty-five percent of all women of reproductive age use some form of birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to the CDC. 99% of sexually active women have used some form of birth control in the past. Many women choose to use birth control pills because of their ease of use, availability, safety, limited side effects, additional health benefits, and effectiveness.
Which Birth Control Pill Is Best For Me
It’s no secret that everyone is different. Therefore, you should have an open conversation with your doctor to determine the right birth control pill for you. There are many factors to consider when choosing a birth control pill, including your age, health history, how you respond to treatment, lifestyle, and preferences. The journey to finding the best birth control pills for you can often involve some trial and error and requires patience and honesty with your doctor.
What’s The Best Type Of Birth Control For Me?
The recommendations above are based on the benefits of each birth control pill. You should always seek professional medical advice from your doctor before starting a new medication.
Birth control pills contain synthetic versions of the hormone estrogen and one of dozens of different types of progestin. Women naturally produce estrogen and progesterone. There are three main types of birth control pills: combined estrogen and progesterone, progestin only, and continuous or extended cycles. There are many varieties of each pill type, from brand name to generic, with dosages available in 28-, 90-, or 365-day active pill cycles. Different brands have the same hormones, just given different names by different manufacturers. Which particular pill is best for you depends on your body’s needs and your doctor’s recommendations.
Combination pills are a mixture of hormones, estrogen, and progestin taken once a day at the same time every day. The combined pill prevents pregnancy in three ways:
There are currently four types of combination pills on the market in the United States: regular combination pills, extended-release combination pills, monophasic combination pills, and polyphasic combination pills. The regular combination pill contains the two hormones estrogen and progestin and follows a standard dosage schedule. This generally includes 21 days of active pills followed by seven inactive pills. Pills that are not active in the body have withdrawal bleeding during the week. When a combined pill contains the same dose of estrogen and progestin for the first 21 days of each pack. This is called monophasic. Multiphasic pills contain different amounts of estrogen and progestin depending on which week of the pill pack you take.
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Combined birth control pills are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly. However, the typical use of combination birth control pills reduces the effectiveness to 93%. For maximum pregnancy prevention, take your pills at the same time every day and start new pill packs on time. To be more careful, use condoms as a backup method of contraception.
Extended cycle pills are also combination pills, but they create longer cycles and are meant to be taken for a longer period of time. Unlike standard combination birth control pills, extended-cycle combination pills are usually prescribed for 12 to 13 weeks of uninterrupted active pills followed by a full week of inactive pills. This extended cycle pill still allows you to get your period less often.
Depending on your body and dosage schedule, you may only get your period three or four times a year from this pill. If you want to skip menstruation completely, a continuous dosage may be prescribed at the discretion of your doctor. Some women experience vaginal spotting, which usually subsides with continued use of the pill. A continuous dosing schedule involves taking one combination pill daily without taking any breaks from the hormones. Continuous pills and no periods are safe for most women.
As a combination pill, the effectiveness of extended cycle pills is considered to be 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly. However, the efficiency drops to 91% if it is not perfectly absorbed. One way to ensure maximum pregnancy protection is to set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to take your pill at the same time every day and set an alert to start a new pack of pills. Some women use a backup method of contraception, such as condoms, for extra protection against pregnancy.
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The benefits of extended-release pills are the same as regular combination pills, with the addition of:
As a type of combination pill, the disadvantages of extended-release pills are similar to those of regular combination pills, in addition to:
The Minipill is a birth control pill that contains only one type of progestin, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. Unlike the combined birth control pill, the minipill does not contain estrogen.
The Minipill prevents pregnancy in a similar way: it thickens the cervical mucus that blocks the sperm’s path from the uterus to the egg, preventing the sperm from reaching the woman’s egg. When a sperm has a chance to arrive and fertilize an egg, the minipill also thins the endometrial lining of the uterus so that the fertilized egg cannot implant. Minipills, however, do not prevent eggs from leaving the ovary like the combined pill.
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Progestin-only pills are daily oral contraceptives and must be taken at the same time each day to maximize effectiveness.
The Minipill is as effective as the combined pill (about 99%) in preventing pregnancy if taken perfectly. However, since the minipill must be taken at the same time each day, it has a higher failure rate than the combination pill. If they don’t take it at the same time, for example, at 9 am. Monday, then 11 a.m. On Tuesday, your risk of pregnancy increases for about 48 hours. 13 out of 100 women get pregnant while taking the mini pill, compared to 9 out of 100 women taking the combined pill.
If you miss a scheduled dose on any day, consider abstaining from sexual activity for the next 48 hours or more, taking the emergency contraceptive pill (Plan B or Ella), or using additional protection such as condoms. This additional measure may help prevent unplanned pregnancy during dose interruptions.
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend a progestin-only pill instead of the more common combination pill. For starters, the minipill doesn’t contain estrogen, so that can be an advantage if you’re sensitive to estrogen. If you find that you are sensitive to estrogen on the combined pill, your doctor may prescribe you a progestin-only pill. You may also be prescribed the minipill if you have a family or personal history of blood clots. Estrogen-containing pills are contraindicated if you have a medical condition that places you in CDC medical eligibility class (MEC) 3 or 4. Examples of MEC 3 or 4 conditions include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and retinopathy. Finally, if you are currently breastfeeding, your doctor may prescribe the minipill because it is safe to use immediately after birth and does not reduce your breast milk supply. As always, if you are breastfeeding and looking for the best birth control option for you, consult your doctor. Tell your doctor when you stop breastfeeding, as this is a good time to switch to the combination pill.
Birth Control (contraception)
Most prescription pills are considered low-dose birth control pills. They are, as the name suggests, a combination pill that lowers hormone levels. Specifically, low-dose pills contain 35 micrograms or less of estrogen, and low-dose pills contain 20 micrograms or less of estrogen. Lowering estrogen levels prevents common side effects such as headache, nausea, and chest pain while maintaining efficacy.
They work in the same way as regular combination pills by preventing ovulation, preventing sperm from reaching the egg and preventing the fertilized egg from implanting due to thinning of the endometrial lining of the uterus.
One of the reasons low-dose pills have become so popular over the past 20 years is that they are just as effective at preventing pregnancy and regulating menstrual cycles as their high-dose counterparts. With typical use, low-dose pills are 91% effective. When used perfectly, they can be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
As is necessary with the progestin-only minipill, if you find it difficult to take the pill at the same time every day, a low-dose pill may be recommended as an alternative, as it has a slightly longer window. you take it every day.
Which Type Of Emergency Contraception Is Best For You?
As with most medications, there are some potential side effects and downsides to using low-dose birth control pills:
Most of the pills available today are low dose. Here are some of the more common and popular brand names, with many generic versions also available:
Emergency contraception pills, otherwise known as
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